Saturday, December 07, 2013

Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

N'Kosi Sikeleli Afrika was the anthem of the then underground  African Natl Congress (ANC) and a song of protest heard all over Africa. Singing it was illegal in South Africa and could land one in prison. When apartheid fell and Nelson Mandela came to power, it became the national anthem of South Africa. In my opinion, it is the best national anthem in the world. Here sang by Miriam Makeba, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Paul Simon:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Death comes for the revolutionary

Chin Peng, the former secretary general of the Communist Party of Malaya, died this week in Thailand on September 16 (read New York Times report here), which was coincidentally Malaysia Day. (That he died on that date is being disputed by some.) Chin Peng was Malaya's independence hero who fought the Japanese and then the British. He was the last of his kind that once included Ho Chi Minh, Norodom Sihanouk, Aung San and Sukarno. Chin Peng penned a final letter to his comrades which you can read here.

When an independence hero dies, one expects honors. But the Malaysian government decided to disallow the interment of Chin Peng's ashes in Malaysia. You see, Chin Peng was indeed a hero for fighting the Japanese and campaigning for independence from the British, but he committed the historical mistake of continuing the struggle (many times violent) against the newly independent Malaya. So there was therefore the debate whether he was an independence hero or a terrorist.

This was of  interest to me because I am currently reading Tan Twan Eng's Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Garden of Evening Mists, and that historical novel was set in the Cameron Highlands, where Chin Peng set up his base. The communist attacks in the area provide the atmospherics of the novel. One major incident in the novel was the ambush and murder of the British High Commissioner carried out by Chin Peng's communist guerrillas hiding out in the hills of the Cameron Highlands. It is  a very good novel. Look it up and read it. It will make you want to go to Malaysia and visit the Cameron Highlands. As I will soon.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Teresa Teng sings with Jay Chou

In a recent Taiwan concert, Teresa Teng (who used to be the most famous Chinese singer in the 1980s), makes a virual comeback to sing with Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou. The title of the song is Ni Zen Me Shou or What Do You have to Say.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Confessions at the Eiga Sai 2013

I strongly recommend the Japanese film Confessions (Aug 22, Thursday, UP Film Center, free admission). Compelling storytelling revolving around a revenge plot. It is for movies like this that we still go to the cinema. You might also want to check out the other movies showing at the Eiga Sai 2013 sponsored by the Japanese Embassy (see my earlier blog post below for the schedule).

Monday, August 19, 2013

EIGA SAI 2013 at UP Film Center

Here is the schedule. The films all look interesting and I've heard a lot of superlative things about the film Confessions so it's a must-see for me.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Online bookstore that delivers to Philippines for free

If a book you are looking for is not available locally and you can wait a little less than a month, I recommend you try BetterWorldBooks, a secondhand books online store. No extra shipping charge to deliver to the Philippines and the post office custom section didn't ask me for any tax. And for every book you buy, they match and donate one.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Suicide Prevention Infographics Contest

In commemoration of the World Suicide Prevention Month in September 2013, the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation is holding a Suicide Prevention Infographic Contest with the aim of increasing the public’s awareness on warning signs of suicide, available resources to help a person who is suicidal, and eventually preventing suicide. The suicide infographic to be produced is based on the Suicide First Aid Guidelines for the Philippines.

The Suicide First Aid Guidelines for the Philippines is a set of guidelines that was developed to help community members recognize the risk of suicide and how to respond to it before professional help can be sought. It has been disseminated primarily through lectures, trainings and workshops on suicide prevention. An information graphic or infographic, on the other hand, is a visual representation of information data, or knowledge to present complex information quickly and clearly.

The Contest 

Contest participants are asked to design an infographic to increase the public’s awareness about the warning signs of suicide and where to get help. The content must be based on the Suicide First Aid Guidelines for the Philippines ( or requested from NGF. Submissions must appeal to the general public particularly adolescents and young adults. The infographic must motivate others to take action to prevent suicide.


The Contest is open to both individuals and teams 18 years old and older, from any location. If a team entry is named a winner, the prize will be awarded to the individual who submitted the team’s entry. There is no entry fee.

Rules and Criteria
Entries can contain any form of visual media including digital art, graphs, photographs, illustrations, drawings and paintings, provided they are presented in one infographic image. The infographic must contain only original work and not be subject to any copyright restrictions. All Suicide Prevention Infographic Contest entries become the property of the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (NGF) which retains the right to publish the infographics in all media formats including but not limited to print, digital and broadcast. Infographic creators and the NGF will be acknowledged in all published versions.
Infographics will be judged on visual appeal, innovative use of information and visual images and other criteria as determined by the judges. The decision of the judges is final and binding. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 10, 2013. Details of the awarding will be announced later.

How to join the contest
Anyone who is interested to participate in the Contest must register online at Suicide Prevention Infographics Contest Entry Form ( Registrants will receive a copy of the Suicide First Aid Guidelines and contest updates. Infographics can be created using any illustration software but must be submitted in jpeg format.

How to submit your entry
Entries must be submitted through email to with the contestant’s first and Last Name as the subject of the email. The content of the email must include the following information:
• name of the person entering the contest
• mailing address
• contact information.

If the entry is from a team, the subject of the email must state the First Name and the Last Name of the primary contact person. The content must include the following information: name of the team, members of the team, address and contact numbers of the primary contact person.
Only submissions that contain a single image in JPEG format will be accepted.
Important dates
August 10, 2013 – start of the Contest
September 7 - closing of the Contest
September 10 – announcement of winners


First prize: 10,000.00 and gift items
Three consolation prizes of 5,000.00 each and gift items.

For more information, please email

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hanif Kureishi's Intimacy

With more free time now, I wanted to begin reading fiction again, and afraid of plowing into big works, decided to read Hanif Kureishi's slim Intimacy. The yellow cover is very attractive and the front blurb says it is Kureishi's best so far. And I am glad I took it up. 

Intimacy is about one man's thoughts, doubts and recollections the night he finally decided to leave his wife and children for another woman. The novel's first sentence will grip any reader: It is the saddest night, for I am leaving and not coming back. If you have seen The Bridges of Madison County, the general mood of Intimacy is comparable to that of the scene where Meryl Street was gripping the car knob, not sure whether to stay or take flight.

It is a painful book to read at times. I guess reading about people drifting apart always is, but Kureishi's prose is honest and beautiful. It is a book you can read at one sitting, or carry with you while waiting for your flight. 

Monday, February 04, 2013

Call for volunteers

The Municipality of Gubat is once again calling for volunteers for the Delfin Fresnosa Municipal Reading Recovery Program. Details can be found on the poster below.